When Anneka Bakker’s family started travelling the globe to meet artisans and bring back their handmade goods to sell in Ottawa, the term ‘third world’ was fairly common. First popularized in the 1950s, it was meant to signify a ‘third way’, economically and politically, compared with communist and capitalist countries. But by 2004, when the Bakker family took over the business, they considered changing the name. They saw that the term ‘third world’ was changing, and that people objected to the concept of labelling countries in such a way.
“It was a term for a certain era,” says Anneka. “At the time, it was a term of self-empowerment. But in the 1980s there wasn’t the understanding that the term unconsciously creates a hierarchy. People have voiced concerns over the years, and we felt the same way. Over the last few years it became more apparent. Sometimes, when people hear the background of the term they will understand, but I think because we’ve shifted the overall meaning in our culture, the original meaning has been lost.”
And so this year, the family is unveiling a new name: One World Bazaar. It opens Thursday, September 24, and runs until early November — check their new website for dates and times.
“It’s not a far departure, but it creates more space for celebration,” she says. “Ultimately, we’re about celebrating the beauty of handcrafted goods and cultural diversity we see in our travels, and bringing that back to Ottawa.”
That new name is not the only big news for the 40-year-old business. This fall, in addition to hosting ‘Ottawa’s original pop-up’ at their massive barn in Manotick, the family is also selling online. Anneka admits it’s a logistical nightmare, as products are sourced from afar, directly through meeting with artisans, but with COVID-19 changing the shopping experience for everyone, they decided to take the plunge.
“We’ve always considered it, but in the past had decided the experience of the barn wasn’t easy to replicate or represent online. There’s such a variety of products, and very little inventory, and a general inability to restock … it’s not that transferable to an online store. But it is possible, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
This year the bazaar will also have a tent, to allow product to be spread over a larger space. They are monitoring capacity and have added cashiers so that people can move through more quickly. (As always, it’s a semi-outdoor experience so air flow is better than in a traditional retail space.) Plus, they have added extra weekends special hours for seniors and people with compromised immune systems.
While not everything that’s shown on their online store will be at the bazaar, a quick glance will give you a good idea of what’s available — and the kind of work that goes into each piece. From Java alone there are beautiful (and on-trend) hand-woven baskets made from seagrass, majestic wooden carvings inspired by nature, and stylish teak chairs.
You’ll also find photos and stories about the artisans. Over the years, the Bakker family has forged strong ties with local communities, paying them fairly for their creations and helping them to establish their own businesses. In turn, these artisans teach them — and by extension, shoppers in Ottawa — valuable lessons in sustainable manufacturing and running a family business.
“In our travels one of the most beautiful things we see is the traditional way of doing things being passed down through generations,” says Anneka. “And often materials come from within a 10-kilometre walk; fabrics are made and dyed with natural processes.”
At a time when everyone is talking about the importance of local economies and threats to distribution systems, One World Bazaar is a unique way to support artisans in far-off places, find presents and one-of-a-kind home decor items, and keep the Bakker family tradition alive.